President Barack Obama has released a web ad featuring an overview of the history of faith in America and his pledge to defend religious freedom – but some conservative groups suspect the ad may have been released in anticipation of nationwide protests next month against the HHS contraception mandate.
"From the time of our nation's finding, people of faith have shaped America. Throughout our history, faith has been a powerful source of good in our communities and our families. So faith isn't just a footnote in our nation's story – it reinforces the very essence of America," Obama's message of faith begins, which is available on his website.
Despite polls suggesting that a significant number of Americans believe that Obama is a Muslim, the president has maintained that he is a Christian, and talked about his faith in the video in which he directly addresses the American people.
"As someone who values the role of people of all faiths in American life, I'm always touched by the amazing stories of love, service and compassion that take place in this country every single day," Obama says.
"They reinforce the power of my Christian faith, which has guided me throughout my presidency and in my life, as a husband, as a father, and as president. This job is full of tough decisions, and the end of every day, each president needs to act based on what their values are, and what they believe."
His public profession of faith stands in contrast with his rival for the presidency, Republican Mitt Romney, who has been conservative in sharing details about his Mormon religion.
Both candidates have stated, however, that they will work hard to preserve religious freedom in America.
In the video, Obama directly states: "In a changing world, my commitment to protecting religious liberty is and always will be unwavering. As American's diversity grows, we have a chance to reaffirm the pluralism that has defined us as a nation. A pluralism expansive enough to protect the rights of all to speak their minds and to follow their conscious."
The Stand Up for Religious Freedom coalition launched a grassroots campaign against the HHS Mandate backed by Obama that forces religious employers to provide birth control insurance to employees.
Eric Scheidler, co-director of the organizationon, shared in a statement emailed to The Christian Post that he finds Obama's recent statements on faith more of a response to Americans concerned about their religious liberty in light of the mandate.
"I take great encouragement from President Obama's latest web ad, in which he claims to be a defender of religious freedom and a great admirer of the of faith in our public life – not because I believe a word of what he says, but because it shows that our massive, grassroots campaign to stop Obama's HHS Mandate and restore religious freedom is working," Scheidler said.
"If President Obama really valued the role of faith in public life, he wouldn't be trying to force employers to violate their religious convictions. He wouldn't be willing to see institutions like Christian colleges and Catholic hospitals shut down rather than submit to a mandate that forces them to violate their core values," he added.
Scheidler remarked that Obama's faith video comes close to Oct. 20, when nationwide Stand Up for Religious Freedom rallies will be organized around the country and just 17 days before the presidential election.
"We who are rallying for religious freedom across the United States will not be mollified by pretty words about the American tradition of religious liberty. If President Obama wants to show that [he] really means what he says in this video, he will rescind the HHS Mandate."
The People of Faith for Obama website welcomes people to share their views and values, noting that Obama's mission is to work for the common good for all Americans.